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All Mesa County Valley District 51 schools closed as illnesses spread

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — All Mesa County Valley District 51 schools have closed because of two unknown viruses spreading among students and staff.

The school district said Wednesday afternoon that the schools will be closed Thursday and Friday. They are scheduled to reopen following Thanksgiving break, which lasts Nov. 25 through Nov. 29.

While all school buildings will be closed, administrative offices will be open Thursday and Friday.

The district says it has never had to close all of its schools due to illness.

“We are taking this highly unusual action because this virus is extremely contagious and spreading quickly across our schools. In addition, it appears that there is now a second, related virus that is affecting students, some of whom have already been ill in recent weeks. The combination of the two has created an unprecedented spread of illness,” said Tanya Marvin, the nursing coordinator for the school district.

The district says vomiting is a symptom for both types of viruses. The second virus has also caused fever.

Onset of symptoms is “incredibly fast,” according to the district.

Cleaning crews are working to disinfect the schools.

“We understand that a districtwide closure is an inconvenience to families and a rare step to take. While our custodial crews are working tirelessly to disinfect schools, the rapid spread of illness has led us to the conclusion that closing all schools to allow our custodial crews and environmental health and safety team to perform an intense cleaning of the school buildings is the best course of action,” Dr. Diana Sirko, the district’s superintendent, said in a statement.

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